Moving across the country! Boxes to ship! Help?
June 19, 2012 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Moving from Brooklyn, NY to San Diego, CA. Have about 10-15 large/heavy boxes to ship to CA. A few boxes are primarily books and DVDs. The others are clothes and shoes. Nothing super fragile. I don't have a car. What is the best/easiest/most affordable way to do this? Halp!
posted by blackcatcuriouser to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Your options are basically this:

LTL shipping - you crate these boxes and pay for a space on a truck. There are many suppliers, I have used a variety and had good results. Takes a long time compared to say, UPS. Businesses often get a MUCH better deal on this, so if you know someone who owns a business, ask around.

Media Mail - the USPS will ship media mail but the boxes can contain only media (DVDs, books, audio tapes), nothing else.

Set up an ad on Craigslist/whatever and see if anyone else is moving across the country. You can share part of their moving truck in exchange for gas money/some payment.

Harder to do, but some distributors (I've heard the bolt/fastener store Fastenal does this) will allow you to put something on one of their distribution trucks. Basically you get your stuff on a pallet and then wait for them to make it down to San Diego.
posted by fake at 6:54 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

You can ship books and DVD's Media Mail USPS. (You might want to re-box them so that they can be easily lifted. I find that liquor store boxes are the perfect size and density for this.)

Clothing can be shipped UPS. It might make sense to pay the extra baggage costs and take an extra suitcase on the plane with you. Go to a military surplus store/site and get duffel bags. They're AWESOME for cramming your stuff in.

Double-check your stuff. A lot of what you needed in NY will not be needed in Ca.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:55 AM on June 19, 2012

For the books and DVDs, sending them via USPS Media Mail might be a good bet.

How are you transporting yourself? Last time I moved I discovered that I can get all the clothes from my five-drawer dresser into one large suitcase (I was shocked!); the clothes in the closet would probably be a second suitcase-worth, so if you have a similar amount of clothes as me (or are willing to pare down - you won't need your winter coat in San Diego) and access to a couple of big old suitcases, you could check the clothes as luggage.

On preview: What Ruthless Bunny said.
posted by mskyle at 6:57 AM on June 19, 2012

You can also ship via Greyhound.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:09 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check shipping prices at a mom-and-pop-type postal store. They can frequently get you better prices than if you go directly to UPS or FedEx yourself.

Disclaimer: I know this because my boyfriend owns such a store, and he can pretty much always beat the prices you get by going directly through UPS and FedEx, because he gets a volume discount and then passes the savings on to his customers.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:10 AM on June 19, 2012

Ship via Amtrak Express Shipping!

I shipped 500 pounds of stuff across the country (Portland, OR --> Philadelphia, PA) for around $250.

The catch is that you can't ship "anything with a plug" but it doesn't sound like that will be an issue, based on the items you mentioned in your post.

Let me know if you need more info and I'll try to remember more details that could be helpful.
posted by smirkyfodder at 7:32 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I was jumping in to mention Amtrak too - only trick is that you must have a car to pick things up (which I did not have when I moved).
posted by anya32 at 7:34 AM on June 19, 2012

There's a "first mile" problem with Amtrak shipping, in that you'd have to get the stuff to Newark to send it.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 7:41 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might give uShip a try.
posted by spilon at 7:51 AM on June 19, 2012

I had roughly the same problem two years ago (Philadelphia to Oakland); UPS ground (which takes about a week) seemed like the best combination of predictability (some of the other services were kind of vague about when my stuff would get there) and price. Amtrak Express might also work, but like people have pointed out there's a first-mile (and last-mile) problem.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:57 AM on June 19, 2012

When I moved from Boston to LA, I shipped about 20 large boxes with similar items via UPS ground. It took about a week and, at the time, it was an average of $25-30 per box depending on weight. The rates may have increased slightly since then.
posted by katemcd at 8:02 AM on June 19, 2012

Nthing Amtrak shipping for cheapness if you can deal with getting to/from the Amtrak station.
posted by freezer cake at 8:23 AM on June 19, 2012

I did a move from Brooklyn to LA sans car. I maxed out my baggage check-ins by paying extra and flew Virgin America. They have a very generous extra luggage allotment--or at least they did when I flew them 2 years ago. And their fees were cheaper than shipping the same amount of stuff.

If money is your concern, do media mail for your books/dvds. Just know that it can take a month for them to reach their destination. Or better yet, sell them all on amazon/ebay/ before you move (that's what I did). They are probably not worth the money you'll pay to ship them and you could rebuy them for cheaper--unless they're collectibles/have sentimental value? In which case I'd not use media mail.

I ended up UPS-ing my 11 boxes due to a few factors: 1) I had to have my stuff in LA in a timely, predictable fashion, 2) I already had a signed lease for an apartment there so I had an address to ship them to, 3) there was a UPS store within walking distance of my Brooklyn apartment. No cabs in the part of Brooklyn I lived in, so transport to the shipping center was a big deal.

The biggest thing I regret was not wrapping every box in that stretchy plastic wrap. Even though I used what I thought were tough boxes, by the time they arrived a couple were beat up beyond belief with holes and everything. If you wrap everything in that plastic, at least stuff won't fall out and your boxes won't explode during shipment.
posted by dede at 8:58 AM on June 19, 2012

Just did this last year, and my solution was media-rate USPS for everything applicable, brought fragile things with me, and shipped the rest fedex ground. If you use fedex's website you can mess around with box dimensions and weight to find the best dollar-to-pound ratio. It was probably more expensive than amtrak etc. but a hell of a lot easier. I fedexed 10 boxes averaging 80 lbs for around $600.
posted by ianhattwick at 9:47 AM on June 19, 2012

Came in here to recommend U-Ship. I had a good experience with them last year. Good potential option for in-between-sized moves.
posted by aka burlap at 6:12 PM on June 19, 2012

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